Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Moderate Exercise Lowers Risk of Death for Older Hypertensive Men

Older men who have high blood pressure can lower their risk of death with even moderate amounts of exercise, according to a new study.

“To substantially reduce his risk of death, an elderly man needs to walk briskly for 20 to 40 minutes a day, 4 to 6 times per week,” lead author Charles Faselis, MD, Chief and Associate Professor of Medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) in Washington, DC, said in an interview.

At the moment, only about 25% to 30% of older men engage in a brisk walk of 20 to 40 minutes most days of the week, Dr. Faselis noted.

BENEFITS OF A BRISK WALK

For the study, researchers assessed the fitness status of more than 2150 men with hypertension, aged 70 years and older, using a standard treadmill exercise test.

The researchers published their results online in the May 12, 2014 issue of Hypertension.

They used metabolic equivalents (METs)—equal to the amount of oxygen the body uses per kilogram of body weight per minute—to determine the men’s peak fitness levels.

One MET is the amount of energy expended at rest; anything above that represents work.

The researchers categorized the men as very low fitness, low fitness, moderate fitness, and high fitness.

“To put this in perspective, the peak MET level of a sedentary 50-year-old is about 5 to 6 METs,” said Dr. Faselis.

“For a moderately fit individual, it’s about 7 to 9 METS, and for a highly fit person, it’s 10 to 12 METs.”

After an average follow-up of 9 years, the researchers found that the risk of death was 11% lower for every 1-MET increase in exercise capacity.

Compared with least-fit men (up to 4 peak METs), the risk of death was 18% lower in those in the low-fit category (4.1 to 6 peak METs), 36% lower in the moderately fit men (6.1 to 8 peak METs), and 48% lower in the high-fit men (peak METs of more than 8).

“A regular brisk walk most days of the week is a safe, effective form of exercise.

Most health benefits are realized at this exercise level.

More vigorous exercise is not required,” said senior author Peter Kokkinos, PhD, Professor at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Georgetown University School of Medicine and George Washington University SMHS.

He added that an exercise stress test is highly recommended for patients before they engage in any exercise program.

Also, doctors should check with the patient periodically and encourage him to maintain exercise, he said.

“PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AWARENESS” CAMPAIGN

“The evidence supporting exercise-related health benefits for all ages is overwhelming,” Dr Kokkinos said.

“Physical activity is an inexpensive way to improve health.

It can easily be implemented for most populations at any age.

Yet, we are in the midst of a physical inactivity epidemic.

Health-care providers can help change all this by simply taking a few minutes to discuss physical activity with their patients.”

Dr. Faselis added: “The responsibility of promoting physical activity should not stop with the health care provider.

In this digital age, where inactivity is fostered, the time has come for a ‘Physical Activity Awareness’ campaign nationwide.”

Varsity Athletes Stay Active into Their 70s

Men who played a varsity sport in high school tend to be physically active into their 70s, and therefore healthier, according to the results of a new study.

Organized sports foster better health and fitness in old age,” says lead author Dr Simone Dohle of ETH Zurich, Department of Health Science and Technology.

The researchers analyzed a unique data set of 712 healthy US men, average age 78 years, who had passed a rigorous physical exam in the 1940s and who were surveyed 50 years later (in 2000).

Their physical activity level after 50 years was correlated and regressed across a wide number of demographic, behavioral, and personality variables from when they were 50 years younger.

The single strongest predictor of later-life physical activity was whether a man played a varsity sport in high school, in particular, football, basketball, baseball, or track and field; this also was related to fewer self-reported visits to the doctor.

The researchers published their results in the December 1, 2013 issue of BMC Public Health.

“I believe that it is important that physicians specifically target physical activity in preventive counseling, combined with suggestions for exercise or physical activity, and information on how to start an exercise routine or where to find a sports or fitness club,” says Dr. Dohle.

“When a physician takes down a patient’s medical history, it would be crucial to assess physical activity levels too,” she continues.

“In addition, a physician could encourage a patient by highlighting that physical activity is one of the most effective ways to prevent chronic diseases.”

Physicians need to keep in mind, however, that every patient has his own needs, abilities, and constraints, Dr. Dohle says.

“Find an activity that ensures long-time involvement and that the patient enjoys.”

The findings also offer some compelling reasons to maintain or enhance high school athletic programs, even in an era of shrinking school budgets.

Dr. Dohle says, “It has been noted that physical education classes may be the only opportunity for many to engage in weekly physical activity. School-based organized sports should be preserved because they contribute to later physical activity levels and decrease the risk factors for early morbidity.”

She suggests that perhaps there are more cost-effective ways to maintain sports programs without eliminating them.

For younger patients, physicians need to ask about physical activity, including time spent playing outside or participation in organized sports, Dr. Dohle states.

“Parents and other caregivers play a role in encouraging them to be active and should be involved in this discussion.

It might be that other forms of relatively vigorous exercise and physical education classes could be promoted across grade levels,” she notes.

“They need not concentrate on competition but rather on enjoyment, and on the benefits of and ways to stay physically active over the lifespan.”

Less competitive students can be steered toward noncompetitive activities, such as dance, weight lifting, and martial arts, Dr. Dohle suggests.

How to Avoid Injuries and Swim Like Michael Phelps

How cool was it to watch Michael Phelps anchor the US team to the 4 x 200 meter freestyle Olympic gold medal and, as a result, become the most decorated Olympic athlete ever.

Phelps is inspiring yet another generation of swimmers, both elite and amateur.

He even makes me want to hit the pool, or maybe swim a few hundred yards beyond the shore break next time I’m at the beach.

More than a million competitive and recreational swimmers have made swimming one of the most popular fitness activities in the United States.

More than one-third of swimmers practice and compete year-round and elite swimmers may train more than five miles a day, putting joints through extreme repetitive motion.

That kind of regimen increases the risk of injury, says Dr. Stuart Elkowitz of Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group.

“With overuse comes fatigue and failure to adhere to proper stroke techniques, which in turn can lead to injuries,” says Elkowitz.

The most common sites of swimming injuries are, in order, the shoulder, the knee, and the neck.

Here are some of Elkowitz’s straightforward tips on how to avoid most of these injuries.

Swimmer’s Shoulder

If you log thousands of yards in the pool each day, you may use your shoulder as many as 2,000 times in a single workout.

Swimmer’s shoulder is an injury of the shoulder’s muscles and tendons due to overuse or poor swimming technique.

It manifests itself as pain and inflammation.

“Swimmers, like athletes who throw a lot, put a great deal of stress on their shoulders,” says Elkowitz.

In fact, more shoulder injuries are reported among swimmers than pitchers in baseball, he says.

Swimmer’s shoulder is most often associated with the freestyle stroke and also with the butterfly and backstroke.

Specific injuries may include rotator cuff impingement — pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade or scapula as the arm is lifted; biceps tendinitis – painful inflammation of the bicep tendon; and shoulder instability, in which structures that surround the shoulder joint do not work to maintain the ball within its socket.

“The most important factor in avoiding shoulder injury is to swim with correct technique,” says Elkowitz.

“A qualified swimming professional or experienced swimmer can assess your stroke and highlight mistakes.”

He recommends against over-training or training with tired muscles to minimize injury.

Also, avoid sudden increases in the number or intensity of your workouts; don’t overuse swim paddles, which put additional strain on your shoulders; and take care when using a kick-board with outstretched arms, as this can put your shoulders in a weak position.

Swimmer’s Knee

Swimmer’s knee is an injury generated by the stroke mechanics of the breaststroke kick.

When the legs extend, then are brought back together during the propulsive phase of the kick, the knee is subject to abnormal external rotation, which puts stress on the inner ligament of the knee, called the medial collateral ligament, and the hip.

To avoid swimmer’s knee, alternate swimming strokes and have rest periods during the year when you don’t swim the breaststroke, says Elkowitz.

He also suggests you warm up and stretch before a swimming session and do regular exercises for your hamstrings and quadriceps to strengthen your legs.

Swimming-related Neck Injuries

Swimming-related neck injuries are usually caused by incorrect technique.

Also take precautions to avoid neck muscle strain from overuse.

“When swimming the freestyle stroke, avoid over-rotation when lifting the head to inhale,” says Elkowitz.

Rotate your body more so your head remains aligned with your body when clearing the water.

When swimming the breast or butterfly stroke, keep your head aligned with the spine at all times.

In the backstroke, increase swim times gradually so your neck muscles have time to adapt.

Yes, I know I’ll never be like Mike in the pool.

But I’m sure there are some young swimmers out there who are ready to take aim at his Olympic record.

They just need to follow these safety rules if they want to have a long, successful career, as Phelps has had.

Making Fitness Fun for Kids

Get moving with your kids to keep them active.

That’s one of the messages from a sidebar, “Making Fitness Fun for Kids,” to my cover story in the August 2012 issue of Heart Insight magazine, just released online.

The main subject of the cover story is Tamika Catchings, a star professional basketball player and member of the NBA/WNBA FIT team, a program that encourages physical activity and healthy living for children and families.

Basketball players participate in games with kids around the country and get them excited about health and fitness.

Taking my own advice, I’m heading to my local Y this afternoon to workout with my 15-year-old daughter.

Here’s the full sidebar. Enjoy.

“Making Fitness Fun for Kids”

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, kids need to get regular physical activity.

Guidelines from the American Heart Association and other organizations suggest that kids should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean playing on a school team or working out at the gym.

Kids can ride bikes, jump rope, play hopscotch and run around the park with their friends.

Any game where kids are up and moving is a great way to help them stay physically active and make their heart, bones and muscles stronger, too, says Denver Nuggets head strength coach Steve Hess.

“The fun part of physical activity comes from kids working hard at something exciting that they like to do.

If you make the activity about them, they will find out that hard work can be fun, too.”

Parents need to find out what stimulates their kids and put a plan into place for optimum buy in, says Hess.

He and his sons Jordan, 13, and Korey, 10, will, on a snowy day, build 10 sledding ramps of different heights and then take turns zooming down them.

If the weather is bad, he creates an obstacle course or treasure hunt inside the house.

“Once they get into doing the activity, they lose track of time. They don’t even know that they’re working out and getting fit,” he says.

Here are some other tips on how to make physical activity more fun for kids:

Find activities your kids will love.

Some kids just don’t like competing in sports.

There are lots of other ways to be physically active, including swimming, horseback riding, dancing, cycling, skateboarding, yoga, hopscotch or brisk walking.

Encourage your child to explore multiple activities to find one he or she really enjoys and one that is appropriate for his or her age.

Get the whole family moving.

Plan times for everyone to be physically active.

Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside.

Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time spent together.

Participate in a local walkathon.

Find a local fundraising walk or “fun run” and bring the whole family.

If it’s animal-friendly, bring your dog along, too.

Make household chores into a dance party.

Put on a favorite CD and allot a certain number of songs to complete a household chore.

For example, allow two songs to vacuum the living room, three songs to wash the dishes and one song to pick up toys in the playroom.

Your kids will be moving faster and working harder to beat the clock, causing their hearts to pump harder and get stronger.

Don’t make exercise a punishment.

Forcing your child to go outside and play may increase resentment and resistance.

Use physical activity to encourage your child to do something she wants to do.

For instance, tell your child she can ride a bike for 30 minutes before starting homework after school.

It’s likely she’ll beg for 20 more minutes outside just to put off the homework if she enjoys bike-riding.

Mix it up to keep it interesting.

Don’t get stuck in a workout rut.

Incorporate a new type of physical activity every few weeks to keep your child motivated.

Varying activities also prevents your child’s body from getting used to the same workout, helping improve your child’s strength and fitness.

Break it up.

Kids don’t have to have to get in 60 minutes of physical activity all at once.

As long as daily physical activity adds up to at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity, your child meets the guidelines.

That might mean 20 minutes of play during recess, 20 minutes of bike riding after school and 20 minutes of briskly walking the dog after dinner.

For the best effects, parents need to put their own energy and enthusiasm into an activity to set an example, says Hess.

“Parents have to get up and going, too,” he says.

“When I take my sons to the park, I’m not just sitting on a bench watching.

I’ll shoot hoops with Korey and ask Jordan to show me some moves on the skateboard ramps.

I am truly excited about the things they are doing, and they can see that.”

More Screen Time Means Less Fit Kids

As the father of two electronically stimulated teens, I’m keening aware of the countless hours they spend in front of their laptops listening to music, chatting with friends, watching TV shows, or surfing the Web.

Now there’s more evidence that kids who spend more time in front of electronic devices are less likely to be fit.

The study was published in the June edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Researchers followed more than 5,000 children from age 12 to 16 to determine changes in their sedentary behavior.

Each child recorded his or her screen time and completed a shuttle run test to provide a measure of fitness.

Importantly, the researchers adjusted for time spent in high-intensity physical activity.

“In this technology age, children spend more time in sedentary behavior,” said lead author Jonathan Mitchell, Ph.D., then at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

“We wanted to see if high screen-based sedentary behavior affected cardiorespiratory fitness levels in childhood, and if this effect was independent of physical activity levels.”

As you might expect, the kids who had more screen time completed fewer shuttle run laps.

The association was strongest for the children who had mid-to-high fitness, and was independent of physical activity levels.

The researchers suggest that if the kids spent less time being sedentary, that is, had less screen time, their fitness levels would increase.

“The results are interesting and add to the evidence that spending too much time sitting is hazardous to children’s health,” said Mitchell. “If children limit the amount of time spent sitting in front of a screen, then this could help to combat declining levels of cardiorespiratory fitness in youth.”

I encourage my kids to get outside and be active whenever possible.

Luckily, they are both athletic and love to skateboard, shoot hoops, kick around a soccer ball, or play catch.

I try to keep up with what they are doing on their laptops so I’m in touch with what they like, however, there’s only so much dub step music one can take.

I suggest they practice the guitar or drums instead of mindlessly listening to tunes, and I am moderately successful.

And now I have even more motivation to get them to limit their screen time.

Wellness Revolution Now Taught at School

When the administrators of the Milton Hershey School recently reviewed the school’s BMI data they realized they had a problem.

The school administration knew they could make a difference in the students’ lives by making health and fitness a priority this school year by highlighting physical activity and nutrition.

Most students at the private school in Derry Township, PA, live at the school, which is funded by the Milton Hershey School Trust.

The new approach, called the “Wellness Revolution”, includes the school’s 5-hour rule.

Students must account for 5 hours of physical activity beyond normal school hours between Monday and Sunday, according to an article in local daily newspaper, The Patriot-News.

There’s no mandated activity; no sit-up requirement or 10,000 steps to count.

Instead, the school’s staff put together a list of activities — from ice hockey, to bicycle riding to weight lifting and swimming — and let the students follow their own desires, writes reporter Nick Malawskey.

As expected, there was some grumbling at first.

But the students have gotten into the groove.

Some of their physical activities include Zumba, turbo kickboxing, and yoga.

Menus at the school have changed as well.

Chicken nuggets, ramen noodles, and spaghetti are out.

Vegetables and buffalo chicken salad are in.

The students said they’re more conscious about what goes into their food — keeping an eye out for high fructose corn syrup and saturated fat content — than they were before, reports Malawskey.

It will take a few years to compile data to see how well the Wellness Revolution is working.

But some students have already lost more than 30 pounds and say they feel better.

If they learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the real gain will be in the prevention of obesity and other chronic diseases when they go off on their own into the real world.

How Athletes Were Convinced to Drink Despite Not Being Thirsty

Sales of sports drinks now exceed $3 billion annually in the US, according to Beverage Industry Magazine.

Much of the rise in the popularity of these drinks is due to the industry’s modern marketing tactics and the strength of a unique positive product image, says human performance expert Tim Noakes, MD.

These tactics have led athletes and fitness enthusiasts to falsely believe they are unable to naturally monitor their hydration levels and drink accordingly.

In his forthcoming book, Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports (Human Kinetics, 2012), Noakes debunks beliefs about hydration that have taken hold over the past 30 years.

The book outlines practices that endurance athletes should follow, variables they should consider, and guidelines they should use in maintaining proper fluid balance in sport training and performance.

He shows how the past 3 decades have been not only a time of runaway success for the sports drink industry but have led to a unique sports injury — exercise-associated hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition caused by overdrinking during extended exercise.

“If drinking during exercise was so important,” Noakes says, “then why should a product that contains no unique molecules ever be taken seriously, especially if its core ingredients of glucose, salt, water, and a dash of lemon are present in even the most rudimentary kitchen?”

And unless you’re running or biking a long distance, you probably don’t need any supplements during activity.

Afterwards, your body might recover just as well with lots of water and a protein snack (think peanut butter sandwich), which is a lot less expensive than fancy sports drinks.

Noakes research shows that sports drink industry marketing methods have helped sustain the idea that dehydration is a condition with a specific set of symptoms (like confusion, dizziness, nausea, cramping, and fainting) that can be diagnosed and prevented, such as by ingesting more sports drinks during exercise.

“Of course, if a patient’s symptoms are not due to a reduction in the total-body water, then those symptoms caused by some other condition will not disappear when the patient is either told to drink more or is treated with intravenous fluids after exercise,” Noakes says.

As a result, he believes the treatments are more likely to cause or exacerbate the underlying condition.

Noakes, who is also a medical doctor and an exercise physiologist, stresses that the only symptom of dehydration is thirst.

It is not a medical condition or disease that produces a variety of unique symptoms.

If an otherwise healthy athlete seeking medical care is not thirsty, it is unlikely that dehydration is the cause of any illness or symptoms that may be present at the same time.

“Not surprisingly,” Noakes points out, “thirst is an uncommon complaint in athletes treated during and after endurance events in which fluid is freely available.”

As well as being an uncommon complaint, thirst is not even listed as a symptom of dehydration by those who have promoted it as a disease.

Noakes believes that the widespread disinformation about the need for sports drinks to treat dehydration helps explain why doctors often treat patients incorrectly, thinking those patients are dehydrated when, in reality, they are overhydrated.

“It is disturbing that incorrect advice to the public and the public’s own susceptibility to promotional efforts resulted in a novel medical condition that affected thousands of soldiers, hikers, runners, cyclists, and triathletes, causing some to die,” Noakes comments.

“Sadly, this phenomenon and the deaths that apparently resulted from it were preventable.”

He believes that the notion of drinking despite lack of thirst is just as bad as water restrictions and required ingestion of salt tablets were during the 1960s.

Today’s athletes, parents, coaches, and even many professionals in medicine, fitness, and sport science push the intake of fluid far beyond the bounds of what solid research suggests.

“Indeed,” Noakes contends, “10s of millions of athletes and fitness enthusiasts are waterlogged in that the hydration practices to which they religiously adhere adversely affect their health and performance.”

Six Ways to Control Your Weight

Healthy Weight Week (January 15 to 21) kicks off today to celebrate healthy diet-free living habits that last a lifetime and prevent weight problems.

Two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese, and obesity numbers will continue to rise unless Americans stop eating more calories than they use, according to Brian Sharkey, a leading fitness researcher and author of Fitness Illustrated (Human Kinetics, 2011).

“In ages past, when the human food supply was unpredictable, people could not count on three square meals a day; as a result, the human body learned how to store energy in the form of fat,” Sharkey says.

“Today, most of us enjoy access to a dependable and plentiful food supply, but our bodies still store energy even though the need for doing so is gone.”

To lose weight, Sharkey says people often turn to restrictive diets, which can backfire and cause weight gain.

“When you diet, your body becomes more fuel efficient and your metabolic rate declines,” Sharkey explains.

“As a result, even more dieting or exercise is required in order to reduce excess weight.

During this cycle, your weight loss slows, and you regain weight three times faster.”

When a person is on a diet, the body uses protein for energy, which means a person can lose muscle protein with each dieting cycle.

As muscle is lost, the capacity to burn calories is reduced.

“Thus, each time you diet to lose weight, you lose lean tissue and must therefore decrease your caloric intake in order to avoid subsequent weight gain,” Sharkey adds.

“As a result, the only way to minimize the loss of lean tissue while dieting is to exercise.”

The safest way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat fewer calories and burn more with physical activity.

In Fitness Illustrated, Sharkey offers six keys to maintaining a healthy weight:

1. If you are active, consume 55 to 60 percent of each day’s calories in the form of complex carbohydrate (beans, brown rice, corn, potatoes, or whole-grain products) and fruit.

2. Limit your fat intake and avoid saturated fat and trans fat.

3. Eat a sufficient amount of lean, high-quality protein (15 percent of your daily caloric intake) to meet your protein needs during training.

4. Achieve weight control by balancing your caloric intake with your caloric expenditure.

5. Since metabolic rate declines with age, you will have to eat less, engage in more activity, or do both in order to maintain a healthy weight.

6. Remember that dieting often leads to future weight gain, especially when it is done without physical activity.

Living Testament to Top 10 Fitness Trends

I’m a living testament to the top 10 fitness trends.

For the past 6 years, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, has conducted an annual survey of health and fitness professionals worldwide designed to reveal trends in various fitness environments.

This year the 2,620 respondents chose the following top 10 fitness trends for 2012:

1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals. Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, such as those offered by ACSM.

2. Strength training. Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete physical activity program for all physical activity levels and genders.

3. Fitness programs for older adults. As the baby boom generation ages into retirement, some of these people have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Therefore, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.

4. Exercise and weight loss. In addition to nutrition, exercise is a key component of a proper weight loss program. Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients.

5. Children and obesity. With childhood obesity growing at an alarming rate, health and fitness professionals see the epidemic as an opportunity to create programs tailored to overweight and obese children. Solving the problem of childhood obesity will have an impact on the health care industry today and for years to come.

6. Personal training. More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that students are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.

7. Core training. Distinct from strength training, core training specifically emphasizes conditioning of the middle-body muscles, including the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen – all of which provide needed support for the spine.

8. Group personal training. In challenging economic times, many personal trainers are offering group training options. Training two or three people at once makes economic sense for both the trainer and the clients.

9. Zumba and other dance workouts. A workout that requires energy and enthusiasm, Zumba combines Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training.

10. Functional fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.

Last Spring, my wife and I bought a series of personal training sessions with certified pros (#1) at both of our kids’ respective school fundraisers.

My plan is ask one of these personal trainers (#6) to set up a general strength training program (#2), in particular working on my upper body strength so I can continue to carry home a case of seltzer from the beverage store a few blocks away (#10).

I’d like to specifically work on core training (#7), which I think will help with turning my waist during the Tai Chi classes I take twice a week at my local Y, mostly with other baby boomers (#3).

I’ve become much more aware of portion sizes recently with my wife on a weight-loss program, and with my doctor’s encouragement, I’m doing aerobics for 30 minutes about twice a week (#4).

One of the issues I follow regularly is childhood obesity (#5) and I blog about it often.

Okay, so I don’t do Zumba classes (“I won’t dance, don’t ask me”) and I’d rather work one-on-one with a personal trainer than in a group.

But the fitness pros pretty much got it all right in their predictions for next year’s top trends.

Getting Fit in School, But Not in Gym Class

Most kids don’t get enough exercise, in school or out.

This great fitness article demonstrates how creative New York City teachers can be to make up for the lack of gym classes in public schools.

Research shows there is a real link between quality physical education and present and future physical activity participation.

The state mandates that city students get a certain amount of exercise: every day for kindergarten through 3rd grade, for at least 120 minutes a week; 3 times a week for grades 4 through 6, also for a minimum of 120 minutes; and at least 90 minutes a week for grades 7 and 8.

But the Department of Education is failing gym, said City Comptroller John C. Liu.

An audit of 31 elementary schools throughout the city found that none were in full compliance with the state guidelines on physical education.

High school students should get 225 minutes per week, according to the National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE).

Sadly, according to a NASPE report, about two-thirds of high school students don’t get the recommended levels of physical activity that increases their heart rate and makes them breathe hard some of the time for a total of at least 60 minutes per day on 5 or more days a week.

Some city educators have found innovative ways to make up for lack of gym class.

Among them are:

a free before-school running program sponsored by the New York Road Runners

after-school fitness clubs

having students stretch or do simple calisthenics at their desks

practicing yoga for a few minutes before a test

These educators should be applauded for getting students up and moving.

As guidelines from the federal Health and Human Services recommend, no period of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity is too short to count toward the recommended daily activity.

The most obvious teaching lesson, of course, is the importance of being physically active throughout life, starting at a young age.